Tag Archives: heartwarming

Release day for Sweet Inspiration

Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice session where she spies an intriguing stranger.

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing between musical competitions. Interest ignites at his first glance at a woman enthralled by his music, who he learns has a heart big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a dilemma—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

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EXCERPT

Unmarried and approaching thirty in a small town branded her as ready and willing to meet every unattached man who set foot inside the city limits. A sigh escaped. Like last week when Espe called Trent Sullivan over to their table at El Tres Amigos and then suddenly remembered an important errand, leaving them together. What Espe hadn’t known was Cadence and Trent already had been set up on blind dates—twice—by other well-meaning friends.

Nothing had clicked on those occasions either. Cadence craved someone with a mysterious past like in her beloved romantic suspense novels. A dark, shadowy figure who knew how to excite a woman with a molten look or a lingering touch. A man who fought to hide his pain and almost succeeded. Not someone like Trent—a guy whose high-school accomplishments she could probably recite.

Sweet plaintive notes of a stringed instrument floated on the breeze. Cadence stopped, straining to recognize the tune. A person didn’t grow up surrounded by folk music without knowing just about every ballad that could be plucked.

But this one eluded her. The twanging strings cried with a soulful sadness that grabbed her by the throat. Her thoughts were washed in loneliness, and she turned toward the sound, past the Heritage Herb Garden. A part of Cadence that couldn’t resist helping others had to see who was expressing such need.

She lifted the hem of her long skirt and hurried toward the haunting sound, as if the notes pulled her feet along the path. The compulsion to know who played added speed to her steps. Abreast of the groundhog pottery kiln, she slowed and peered toward the outdoor stage.

On the platform, several musicians were gathered—some unpacking instruments, others adjusting microphones. Off to one side, a dark-haired man sat in a straight-backed chair, one foot braced on a scratched case. He leaned forward and strummed a dulcimer, the light wood instrument cradled on denim-covered thighs.

Cadence stood a dozen feet away and studied the talented player. His too-long hair was tied back, his shoulders were broad inside his western-cut shirt, and his legs were long and lean. Scuffed boots, faded jeans and a worn Harley-Davidson tee-shirt composed his attire. Definitely more attractive than her own outfit. Even from this distance, she spotted a posture that meant the man had an attitude…or was mysterious. A thrill ran over her skin.

Who was this guy? He’d definitely swagger when he walked. Yummy. At the thought, she stepped closer, wanting nothing between her and the performance.

Long fingers picked the strings in a heated crescendo—note on teasing note, twang on shivery twang, strum on driving strum. He ended the song with a flourish, right hand arcing upward as the last note hung on the early morning air.

How did he know exactly how she felt on nights when everyone in Mountain View either had a date or was home curled next to a spouse? The isolation of being solo at the drive-in or enduring the knowing smile of a sympathetic waitress. His song wrapped all those feelings tight around her heart and squeezed. She inhaled, and the backs of her eyes stung.

Hadn’t she learned her lesson about musicians from the way Dale deserted her when his band got the chance to go on the road? Three years running, and he hadn’t yet steered the tour bus through his hometown.

The stranger laid a hand over the strings, rolled his shoulders, and lifted his head. Piercing brown eyes scanned the area, surveying the other musicians, and his gaze locked with hers. For a suspended moment, his gaze roved along her length, widened, and then returned to her face.

Under his scrutiny, she shifted her feet and tugged at the sides of her skirt. Her period costume didn’t exactly show off her figure to its best. Not that the fact should matter, but she couldn’t look away and chose to ignore the warning bells ringing in her head.

Release of A Quilter for Quint

Daydreamer Melisande Avenelle wishes all the social engagements her mother insists on would just disappear so she can focus on her quilt making. Where some artists see images in dabs of paints, Melisande imagines landscapes made from the fabric of the dresses worn at a tea party. After her refusal of the third man put forth by famed matchmaker Madame Treszka, she’s informed she must choose from three groom candidates arranged by her mother. Thinking Texas can’t be as bad as Newport, Rhode Island, for social engagements, Melisande boards a westbound train with the matchmaker as chaperone.

Widower Quinton Azar has a six-year-old son who wants a mama. Since his late wife’s passing four years ago, Quint divides his days between breaking horses for the Army and parenting his son with no time for courting. His mother manages the household and tends to her youngest grandchild, although she would love to move to Galveston to live with her sister. The telegram announcing the arrival of his mail-order bride—a woman his mother corresponded with—on the next stagecoach is a shock. Quint drives the wagon into town, intending to pay for her return ticket. The beautiful, but disheveled, woman who disembarks the stage is too dazed to trust traveling on her own. What has his mother arranged for his life?

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EXCERPT

If only she could back home, and in her sewing room, working on her latest fabric creation. She looked toward the closest window. Ah, to be outside and breathing the fresh breezes off the Rhode Island Sound. Through the glass spread a bounty of pink buds on a cherry tree. If she gazed long enough, the edges of the tiny blossoms would blur, creating clouds of—

“Did you hear me, Miss Avenelle?”

Jerking her head to the left, she cleared her throat. Had the man across from her asked something? Earlier, his droning, nasal voice delivering his highly acclaimed poem scattered her thoughts, like they escaped ahead of a buzzing bee.

Abner Thistle arched a bushy eyebrow and looked down his long nose, an action which flattened his double chin.

“No, Mister Thistle, I didn’t. Could you please repeat it?” Melisande dared not look in her mother’s direction for fear of the condemnation she’d see. Mother dragged her to this poetry reading for the specific purpose of encouraging another meeting with the acclaimed poet.

Please don’t ask what I think of your work. She would hate to have to admit she’d been transfixed by Penny Dunbar’s gown of green faille silk patterned with yellow and white flowers. With a reinforcing layer of muslin, the fabric would be perfect for the patch of landscape in her latest quilt hanging commission.

“I asked if you had any thoughts on the poem I read.” He wedged the Delft-patterned tea cup under his long mustache and slurped. His watery blue gaze stared across the low table between their seats.

She expected to see drips falling from the whiskers but they remained dry. “Oh, yes. Of course, you’d want to know.” How could she politely verbalize she really had no thoughts about the plight of a slug working its way across a gravel pathway? She’d read the great poets—Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Phillis Wheatley, Robert Burns —and Mister Thistle would not be remembered among their number. “Well, sir…” She glanced down, wishing her cup wasn’t empty so she might stall by taking another sip. “I like to spend time in our garden and appreciated your inclusion of a lesser-known insect in your work. Not everyone appreciates how hard life is for slugs.” A statement containing a compliment and an indication that she had been listening must prove worthy of polite conversation.

His brows pinched, and he huffed out a breath. “Not an insect, Miss Avenelle. Slugs are gastropods.” He set aside his cup on a nearby table and leaned his elbows on his thighs. “I chose the slug because its vital purpose of ridding the garden of dead vegetation is often overlooked. I thought the imagery was so clear. But you appear to have missed the entire spine of the poem. I was making a comparison about how hard man must struggle through the dead ends of life to achieve each and every reward.”

Why did he use the word spine about a creature who possessed none? Telling her she didn’t understand the poem’s theme bordered on rudeness. Rather than dwell on hurt feelings, she admitted, at least to herself, she just hadn’t cared. “Oh, I see.” But she truly didn’t. If that’s what he meant to say, why not use those words? Weren’t poets supposed to be masters of the English language?

FREE in KU

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Snowflake Cottage release

After receiving a life-altering health diagnosis, Jada Beldane heads to a holiday cottage in Sprucewood, Colorado. Armed with a handbook titled Ten Days to Find Joy, she vows to use every exercise to fight her way out of this funk and face a new year with a positive attitude. All she needs is a little time to herself and to stay away from children.

Following a disastrous marriage, single dad Graham Seaver does his best to avoid the tourists in his hometown. He’s determined to give his young daughter the best Christmas ever. Hopefully, keeping her busy will distract her from asking questions about getting a new mother.

On paper, Jada and Graham are a horrible match. But when the town’s scheduled events throw them together, will they succumb to the holiday magic?

Behind the book secret: When I took the outline to my plot group, I said I want this story to be as close to a Hallmark Christmas movie as I can get. We brainstormed about the elements that make those many holiday movies memorable. Then I needed to insert the inherent conflicts that drive the story. As I started writing the contemporary novella, I almost couldn’t believe the way the characters just came alive and challenged and completed each other in ways that surpassed my hopes. I made myself tear up and cry at a couple points, and my editor pointed out where her emotions were jerked, too. I’m proud of all my stories, but this one is super-special.

AMAZON BUY LINK

FREE in Kindle unlimited

Series page on Amazon

Holiday Cottage (11 book series) Kindle Edition (amazon.com)

Happy New Decade and a new release

Happy New Year. May the coming year be one of health, prosperity, and happiness, and may we all strive to practice small but personal acts of kindness.

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Today is release day for Grayson, Book 8 in the Bachelors and Babies multi-author series.

A year ago, lawyer Grayson Wainwright’s brother was killed due to faulty metal bridge braces. When Grayson files a wrongful death case against a company accused of supplying shoddy materials to the Transcontinental Railroad, he relishes his chance to achieve justice. Grayson’s two witnesses intimately know the accused, Leary Riddock–one is his wife, Loraine, and the other is his secretary, Catalina del Mar.

Catalina and her husband, Joaquin, moved west from Omaha, working at various jobs for the Union Pacific. But when their infant son died, Joaquin abandoned her in Cheyenne, and Catalina was forced to support herself. She became a bookkeeper in Riddock’s construction company and soon learned her boss was not a legitimate businessman. As soon as the facts are revealed about Leary’s embezzlement, she agrees to serve as a key witness.

Then Loraine is killed right before she is scheduled to testify, and threats prove Catalina is next. Now with an orphaned infant on his hands, Grayson must move heaven and earth to protect his beautiful remaining witness…and his heart.

Free in Kindle Unlimited

$2.99 to purchase

Other titles in the series are:

Trace by Pam Crooks

Logan by Margaret Tanner

Carter by Cynthia Woolf

Barclay by Charlene Raddon

Dallas by Cyndi Ray

Sawyer by Winnie Griggs

Jared by Charlene Raddon

Kendrick by Zina Abbott

Amazon series page

Unspooky Halloween Story

Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion–sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

Amazon ebook

Audio book

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KOBO

ibooks

This novella was grouped into Hauntings in the Garden, Volume Two along with the following stories:

Love Her Like the Devil by Stacy Dawn

ShriekWeek by Anne Knol

Caper Magic by Veronica Lynch.

Anthology ebook

also available in print

Release day for Hazelanne

This novella is my second title in the multi-author series titled “The Widows of Wildcat Ridge” which is set in 1884 Utah Territory.

Hazelanne Pitts dreams of more in life than the responsibilities of raising her five younger siblings to assist a sickly mother. Secretly, she corresponds with a rancher in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, who wants a mail-order bride. When the money for the stagecoach ticket arrives, she sets off to be married. But a week later, a mine explosion claims the life of her new groom. Struggling to tend the ranch chores on her own, she becomes injured and doesn’t know if she can ride to town for help.

A pretty sweet-natured passenger, Hazelanne, caught stagecoach shotgun rider Brice MacAndrew’s eye when she traveled to Wildcat Ridge. Hearing she was the mail-order bride of Clay Oliphant, a known drunkard, didn’t sit well. After the mine disaster, Brice goes out to the Oliphant ranch and finds an injured Hazelanne who is on the edge of collapse. The only way he can help is to offer a marriage of convenience. Can the ranch become the haven both are looking for?

Amazon buy link at only $2.99

I have ARC copies available for those willing to post a review. Reviews posted within seven days of receipt earn the reviewer a chance at a $10 Amazon card or choice of three backlist titles. Email l.carrollbradd@gmail.com to receive a copy and mention this blog post.

Taming A Scandal is out

Blurb: Socialite Mercia Saunders got evicted due to a touchy situation–which she feels was justified because it was for the sake of her art. Now her Philadelphia landlady has shipped her belongings to the family’s Newport, Rhode Island, home. Her father is livid and demands she choose between being courted by the hand-picked sons of prominent Newport business owners or live scandal-free with her oldest brother on a Texas cattle ranch. To a young woman raised with society, the ranch sounds like boring banishment, but she refuses to let her father choose her beau.

Pinkerton Agent Dominic Prentice is on the trail of a jewelry thief when he first meets the enticing Mercia—too bad he’s wearing the disguise of a dottering Southern gentleman. Then he’s assigned the task of keeping the art student under surveillance on a west-bound train to Texas. He can’t resist a railroad flirtation as himself, and the two draw closer than Mercia’s chaperones know. His allegiance to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency is tested when Dominic is forced to decide between tracking the jewelry or wooing the maiden.

Amazon buy link only $2.99 or FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Included in the multi-author” Lockets and Lace” series, this title is also considered book 8 in my “Dorado, Texas” series.

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I have ARC copies available for those willing to post a review. Reviews posted within seven days of receipt earn the reviewer a chance at a $10 Amazon card or choice of three backlist titles. Email l.carrollbradd@gmail.com to receive a copy and mention blog post.

December Christmas Wishes ebook Giveaway

I’m participating in a multi-author giveaway along with thirteen other authors that could land a free book in your ereader in time for Christmas enjoyment. Lots of genres are represented, from historical to contemporary to mystery and from sweet to sassy.

So be sure to click either on the Rafflecopeter below or on the link that takes you to the facilitator Connie Bretes’ website.

https://www.constancebretes.com/news–things.html
Christmas Wishes Romance Ebook Giveaway

My giveaway title is a Christmas-themed novella titled Silent Signals.

Tagline:  Will the valley’s feud between cattlemen and shepherds keep Konrad and Anora apart?

BLURB: After losing half his herd in the Great Blizzard of 1886, rancher Konrad Werner needs to safeguard his cattle. Tomboy Anora Huxley trains the Australian Shepherds and Kelpies that run the family’s sheep herd. Although cattlemen and shepherds are at odds, the pair discovers common interests. A threat is overheard, and Konrad rides out to Anora’s ranch to protect her. The tense situation reveals their true feelings. Will Anora be swayed by family loyalty, or will she listen to her heart that responds to Konrad’s silent signals?

 

Upcoming release–Dulcina

Dulcina cover_final

On November 15, Dulcina , my first contribution to the Widows of Wildcat Ridge multi-author series,  will release. On pre-order now.

The series is set in 1884 Utah Territory and involves the widows left behind after a gold mine disaster. Each story follows one of the widows as she rebuilds her life in the fictional town of Wildcat Ridge in the northeastern part of the territory.

BLURB

Left widowed following a Utah mining disaster, Dulcina Crass faces running a saloon on her own when her previous contribution was solely as the singer. She struggles to learn the necessary tasks but her heart isn’t in being a saloon keeper. All she ever wanted was to be a famous singer. Will asking Gabriel Magnus, a neighbor from her New Mexico hometown, bring the help she needs or a new kind of trouble?

Gabriel Magnus isn’t fulfilled by his role as ranch hand on the family’s New Mexico sheep ranch. What he wants is the chance to prove his boot making skills are good enough to start his own business. When he receives a letter from recent widow Dulcina offering a partnership in the Last Chance Saloon, he recognizes the chance to come to the rescue of the vivacious girl he wanted to court a decade earlier. Upon his arrival, he presents her with a demand–her answer could decide both of their fates.

AMAZON link

EXCERPT

“Ceremony?” Her eyes shot wide. “You intend us to be married today?”

“I do, and I’ll not marry a woman wearing mourning black.” The drab color did nothing to highlight her natural beauty. “You look fit to join the circle of viudas in the Questa marketplace.”

Lips pinched, she glanced around the immediate area. “But, Gabriel, I have been in mourning for Stuart since the mine disaster.”

He bristled at the mention of that man’s name but kept his expression calm. “A status that ends now. Stuart is gone, never to return in this lifetime.” When he spotted her lower lip quiver, he braced himself. The way their life would be structured moving forward had to be laid out. “Today will be the first day of our marriage, yours and mine, and he will not come between us. I will proclaim my vows next to a woman who looks to the future, not one who still clutches the past.” He stepped back to gather his luggage then carried it to where she stood. “Please show me to the saloon, where I assume you also live.”

“Oh.” She dropped her gaze and pulled at the strings on her reticule. “I thought you’d book a room in the hotel while we get reacquainted.”

If she thought she was the one making decisions, she’d been on her own too long. Maybe her late husband allowed that behavior. She might as well learn that he would not. He narrowed his eyes. “We will get reacquainted while living under the same roof.” The words “and in the same bed” remained unspoken. He didn’t think she was ready to hear his opinion of how the arrangement would play out.

“But Wildcat Ridge has no minister. Poor Reverend Bainum was lost in—”

“I know.” His voice snapped sharper than he intended. He held up a hand. “The mine collapse. The town can only be saved if you stop looking at what you lost and focus on what can be gained.” Realizing other people paid too close attention to their conversation, he clasped her hand and guided her to a nearby bench. “I am sorry, Dulcina. I do understand you have been through a loss. But that tragedy is not my experience. I see new opportunities, and I aim to grab them.” He smiled. “The best one is you.”

Her eyes shot wide. “I’d planned for us to take a day trip to Curdy’s Crossing on Saturday after the horse-related business is concluded. The church there is run by Minister Stone, and other widows have had him perform their wedding ceremonies. I thought we could marry after services on Sunday.” She ducked her head. “The marriage that is supposed to be only a formality.”

New Release–Chasing Adventure

 

 

chasing.newtitle.web

I’m thrilled to announce my next story in the “Entertainers of the West” series is now available. Set in the Montana Sky world established by Debra Holland’s award-winning books, Chasing Adventure takes place in the fall of 1887 in Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing.

BLURB

Dime novelist, Thora Alviss, seeks out an ex-US Marshal, Harte Renwyck, for an interview, but he wants no more publicity about his past life. Determined to make her stories better, city-bred Thora rushes into exploring the frontier life. Thora’s thirst for a good story is stronger than her ability to get herself out of danger and Harte comes to the rescue time and again. Will she give up and return east, or will she learn the survival skills she’s been writing about?

Ex-US Marshal, Harte Renwyck, has left his past behind and looks for no more acclaim, but a pesky author wants to interview him about his former profession. While Harte can’t deny a growing respect for her efforts to make her stories stronger, he’s been wronged by the press in the past and fights to keep his distance. Can he look past his prior grudge and see the adventurous woman close at hand?

Free in KU and for purchase at AMAZON

EXCERPT

“No hotel?” Wide-eyed, she stumbled and grabbed for the rail. “How will I ever find him?”

At her words, Harte narrowed his gaze. She sought a man but hadn’t made arrangements for said man to meet her? Strange. The woman’s face paled, and Harte edged close, fearing she might faint. If ever a woman was out of her element, that person was Miss Alviss.

“I’ll help the lady, Jack.” Before thinking through the situation and realizing what he obliged himself to, he’d opened his mouth and made the offer. Why not? He had to walk in the same direction to return to the office and could carry a bag or two. A stroll through town with a pretty lady on his arm could prove a pleasant diversion. He thought back to the last time he’d walked out with a woman. A casual activity he hadn’t enjoyed in too many months to count. Or could even be years.

Miss Alviss flashed a smile, creasing a dimple at the left corner of her mouth. “What a truly chivalrous and gentlemanly offer, deputy. I do admit to being a bit travel weary and the assistance is much appreciated. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Giving a nod in his direction, she continued up the steps.

Lofty praise for lending a neighborly hand. When was the last time he’d had such pretty words aimed in his direction? Moving with the speed of Mercury, Harte vaulted the steps to the platform and rounded the corner of the depot office. A small mountain of luggage comprised of a portmanteau, two valises, two carpetbags, and a satchel squatted beside a wooden bench. His boots skidded to a stop. Looked like he’d be the one making multiple trips.

“Oh, dear.” She let out a sigh. “In New York City, the porter used a push cart, and the quantity of my bags didn’t pose such a problem.” She dashed forward and grabbed the satchel, lifting the long strap over her head so it rested on her opposite hip. Then she leaned over and reached for a carpetbag.

Knew she was from a really big city. Not wanting her to strain anything, Harte moved to her side. “I offered, although I didn’t know you had so many pieces. But I’ll manage. Somehow.” For a man accustomed to traveling light, he couldn’t imagine what she packed inside all these cases.

Cheeks blushing, she straightened and turned her head, her neck stiff. “Deputy, I am a healthy woman perfectly capable of assisting with the transport of my own belongings.”

“Duly noted, miss.” His words came out more clipped than he intended. Years of dealing with criminals had stolen his ability for idle talk. Setting his jaw, Harte hoisted the portmanteau to balance on his left shoulder then stooped to grab the handles of the matching carpetbags. “If you lift the valise, I can stretch my fingers around the handle.” Barely, but for his pride’s sake, he needed to make the offer.

Bending over, she lifted both valises. “I’ve got them. Now, if you’ll indicate the direction, we’ll be on our way.”

The corner of the leather case dug into his shoulder, and his right hand already ached from the weight. “Head toward the brick building down a ways on the opposite side of the street. The boardinghouse is past the mercantile.” He trudged down the steps, each move jolting his shoulder muscles. The lady’s rigid posture and swishing bustle informed him she still resented his thoughtless remark. Not exactly how he envisioned his morning walk through Sweetwater Springs. Chivalry, my backside.